Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Boys of Fall

Football has been a passion of mine for many years. I started playing football at the ripe old age of four. Let me tell you, I was one fierce sub-four-footer! Granted, I only played but a few downs and was literally squished like a tiny insect that first year. Still, I loved the game. I kept coming back each Fall to join all the other young, aspiring Joe Montana's and Walter Payton's who all dreamed of gridiron greatness. By my fourth year (age 8) I was starting at quarterback on offense and middle linebacker on defense.

Over the years, football became more and more important to me. What started out as a simple game eventually turned into an terrible idol in my heart. Through a combination of God's grace and my own desire and hard work, I somehow exceeded my physical limitations and actually excelled, to some small degree, in football. I led my high school football team, the Soddy-Daisy High School Trojans (Tennessee), to its first back-to-back conference titles in decades. Our team was ranked as high as 3rd in the state in the largest classification (5-A). I led the city of Chattanooga in passing efficiency and yards for the first nine weeks of the season my senior year. I was selected to the All-City team and was a runner-up for the Mr. Football award in the state of Tennessee and the national Wendy's High School Heisman award. I was named the Region 3-5A Most Valuable Player and as a result I am now able to proudly display a faux Heisman Trophy as part of the decor in my son's bedroom. In short, even though I was interviewed almost weekly after our Friday night games and "gave praise to God" each time, and even though the Chattanooga Times wrote a full page article on my faith and football success, I succumbed to the terrible sin of pride. Many people considered me a "Golden Boy". Hey, my teammates dubbed me "preacher boy". However, I knew the true reality: I was a fraud. I was living for my own glory, not the glory of God.

Well, as they say back home..."It's Football Time in Soddy-Daisy!" I still love the game of football...just not as much as I used to. I'll have to reserve "the rest of the story", about how God redirected my path, for another day. All I can say today is that I am humbled and grateful for how God has led me to a place of true usefulness for His highest glory. Don't get me wrong, I still feel that twinge in my stomach from time to time when it's Friday night and the lights are bright and the air is crisp. You should all be glad that I haven't yet found a way to post my old highlight videos to this blog...(By the way, today's the first Saturday of the college football season and my Tennessee Volunteers kickoff tonight against UT Martin...not that I'm keeping track or am excited or anything...)

What is your favorite football (or other sport that you may have played) memory? Have you ever struggled with making an idol out of something you enjoyed?

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